Classic joke: woman goes to a doctor for a checkup. She fills out her form, giving her height at five-seven and her weight at a hundred and thirty. The doctor measures her and says: “Sorry, I’m only getting five-three.” He weighs and comments: “Oops, I’m actually reading one-seventy here.” Then he checks blood pressure and finds more bad news. “Hey, your pressure is very high!”
“I’m not surprised,” she responds. “I walked in here tall and slender and now I have become short and fat.”
That describes all too well the process of former McCain aides working to discredit Sarah Palin. They are out there in the media — yes, they have suddenly discovered how to use the media — bashing Sarah. She brought them down, don’t you see? The woman who was drawing bigger crowds than the man at the top of the ticket is at fault for his loss.
Palin, to her credit, was astonishingly humble when confronted by reporters. She said that if she cost John McCain even one vote, she was truly sorry, because he is a fine man filled with courage and wisdom. That is as gracious a statement as I have seen a politician deliver off the cuff in many a moon.
The actual accusations being leveled against her by these turncoats are provably false. One thing they said was that she did not know who were the signatories to NAFTA, namely the United States, Canada and Mexico. They claimed she did not know Africa was a whole continent, not a single country. This sort of baloney could have been sold twenty years ago, but not in the age of Google. Put NAFTA or Africa into Google and you will know those answers just from the few lines that come up on the first page; you don’t need to click on a link to any website. Anyone who believes a successful Governor can write e-mails but not Google is a candidate to be sold the Brooklyn Bridge.
What we actually have here does not take a political genius to identify. Those same insiders who thought bringing in an outsider might be a cool strategy are now throwing the outsider overboard. Lucky for Sarah Palin, where she comes from you can fall overboard and still land on your feet, although on thin ice.
As for those genius McCain staffers, they ran their own campaign into the ground, not least when they sent their man out in response to the Wall Street meltdown to blame not Chris Dodd, not Barney Frank… but Chris Cox. That was the end of the election in real terms; the polls locked in at 50-44 and stayed that way until the end.
But let’s put aside the policy mistakes and the wrong approaches. Those have been expounded beautifully by Michael Reagan and others. Instead we should focus on the issue of modernization. Assuming the policy gets straightened out next time around, we still need a lot of help in technique. If the media still has the power to wipe out a candidate who is not speaking for himself or herself, then the way to solve that is to speak more, not less — except not to the media.
For example, Sarah Palin was supposed to address a rally against Ahmadinejad in front of the United Nations. The speech was already written. Then the Jewish groups who organized the rally rescinded the invitation after Hillary Clinton churlishly refused to attend. What happened? Nothing, Palin didn’t go, never gave the speech. What should have happened? A huge announcement should have been made that she would deliver the speech anyway and it would be shown live over the Internet. A Jewish group could have been found to host in a nice synagogue or auditorium and there might have been literally millions of viewers.
Another example is the neglect of blue states. Because Republicans have no hope of winning New York or California, they do not campaign there. This depresses their voter enthusiasm there. As a result, the poll numbers lag and the voter turnout lags. This costs the party significantly, because the low polls impact the race early and the low turnout affects the popular vote later.
The Internet can be utilized to solve this problem. It is possible to create campaign rallies in places like upstate New York or Orange County, California, that could attract huge crowds. I think the Buffalo Bills stadium could have been filled by Sarah Palin as well as the University of California at Irvine football field. These rallies can be well-publicized in advance as Internet events, which means they help the national campaign at the same time they warm up the locals. Seeing a full stadium and hearing them cheer for your candidate can bring even the laziest voter to the polls.
Don’t knock Sarah Palin. Knock your outdated approaches. A conservative ticket can win again in this country, but only if it does not fall behind the times.